The two-wheel drive Willys DJ-3A "Dispatcher" has a lot in common with the CJ-3B, besides dating from the same era. It was an inexpensive Jeep whose design was largely an efficient, practical recycling of existing tooling and technology. And it is largely unknown today in North America; people are always trying to figure out what this Jeep is.
The DJ made its debut in 1955, advertised both as a convertible recreational vehicle (a bit ahead of its time) and as America's Lowest Priced Delivery Vehicle.
See a list of specifications of the Dispatcher (40K GIF). See also another brochure, Form W-301-6 (140K JPEG) in yellow.
Designed around the body style and L-134 engine of the former CJ-3A, the Dispatcher was the first Jeep since the early CJ-2A to have a steering column-mounted gearshift. Another distinguishing characteristic was the 4-bolt wheels, hidden by hubcaps in this advertising photo from the collection of Todd Paisley.
Colin Peabody found this rear view factory photo of a convertible DJ. Colin says, "It appears to have been taken in 1955, due to the 1955 Ohio license plate on the Jeep. It has the early CJ-3B/CJ-5 taillights, and rear bumperettes rather than the Surrey-type rear bumper. Photo possibly taken on the grounds at Willys?"
This picture comes from an advertising postcard promoting the Dispatcher's gas mileage (see the back of the postcard, 50K JPEG.) I'm trying to determine where the photo was taken; probably somewhere near Toledo. I'm guessing Westhaven's brand new 24-hour delivery Jeep was just being delivered itself, since it doesn't appear to have a license plate yet. The telephone number GA3-2478 was likely a "GARFIELD" exchange chosen in honor of U.S. President James Garfield, who was from Ohio.
See also a postcard of a red DJ-3A (300K JPEG) postmarked from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands on 21 January 1964.
The DJ-3A was used for all kinds of light-to-medium-duty jobs that didn't require four-wheel drive, even in the military. This U.S. Navy DJ was classified as a Truck, Utility, 3200 GVW, 4x2.
The 1960 Dispatcher in this photo was used by Continental Airlines for towing luggage wagons at the old Denver airport. It was in service as late as 1990 based on the vehicle permit on the windshield, but still has the original L-head engine. Owned by Steve Mehls, the Jeep has now been repainted in its original Continental red and white (35K JPEG) which had been covered up by later re-paints as the Continental colors changed.
Airlines also used Dispatchers as mobile airport loading ramps, with the right rear quarter cut diagonally to carry the sloping ramp. See Airport Jeeps on The CJ3B Page.
This 1958 concept of a mini-pickup version of the Dispatcher, did not go into production. But Kaiser kept building the basic 2WD delivery Jeep almost as long as the CJ-3B, apparently because the U.S. Postal Service was buying them. In 1965, the DJ-3A was replaced with the DJ-5 Dispatcher 100.
In 1959 the DJ-3A was offered in the Surrey Gala version, which is still popular with collectors, but Willys had more sales success with the Dispatcher as a no-nonsense working vehicle.
Thanks to Todd, Steve and Colin for the photos, and Hubert Cossard for the drawing. -- Derek Redmond
Post questions or information about the Dispatcher or Surrey on the DJ-3A Bulletin Board.
Also on The CJ3B Page, see Delivery Jeep Bodies.
Return to Siblings of the CJ-3B.
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